Marian Annett, née Drabble, 1931–2018

Marian Annett, circa 1988 (Photography Department, University of Leicester)

I found out on October 3, 2019, that British psychologist Marian Annett had passed away in April 2018. I was just (and still am) in the process of revising a paper on her work for resubmission with History of the Human Sciences. I am grieving like never before, because this is the first time that I’m grieving as a historian, not as a friend or family member. None of my historical actors (or actresses) had previously passed away while I was writing about them. And, frankly, Marian was alive to  me while I was working on my manuscript. I was in conversation with her. I still am.

In lieu of an obituary, which is currently being prepared by her colleagues Chris McManus and Alan Beaton, I want to let Marian speak. Not much is known about British female psychologists of the 20th century, and I’ll let Marian tell her story in her own words. Continue reading

More Book Summaries on European History—and How These Relate to My Proposed Dissertation

The book summaries below are from my European History list with Heidi Voskuhl, a subsection titled “Bodies and Sexuality.” Since reading towards oral exams is not (only) an initiation rite, but also supposed to prepare me for my dissertation, I thought I’d post my current dissertation abstract before I provide the reading summaries. After all, is for project-related blogs, not blogs of individual scholars. And this IS a project! Five to six years in grad school in preparation for this dissertation:

My dissertation traces and compares handedness and sex/gender as categories in the mind and brain sciences in Europe and the United States since the late nineteenth century. I inquire into the extent to which sex/gender and handedness were treated as unchangeable, innate qualities that originate from and impact the brain and mind. I also examine the interaction of changing conceptualizations of handedness and sex/gender on views of brains, selves, and groups of individuals sharing these characteristics. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which changes in scientific institutions and in society at large altered the understanding of the two categories. My work thus contributes to the historical scholarship on scientific classifications in different contexts: scientific laboratories, public policies, as well as social and cultural life more broadly. Since handedness has been largely neglected by historians, scientific publications as well as archival collections are crucial to this project. Combining close reading with large-scale digital text analyses will illuminate the practice and impact of scientific classifications. The dissertation will thus draw awareness to the continuities and ruptures in the meanings of two of the most pervasive categories in contemporary societies and to the relations between them.

Now you know what I’m talking about when I make statements about the ways in which these readings relate to my prospective dissertation topic (as I try to do more and more, as you will see even better in later and not-yet-posted essays). Continue reading